The Gifts of Grief

It seems like an oxymoron to use the words "gift" and "grief" in the same sentence, yet, we have the free will to choose how we observe any occurrence in life. 

Grief is usually described with every adjective imaginable that symbolizes energy loss. 

In short, it sucks. It sucks our willpower, our joie de vivre, our hope and usually our dreams for the future, too. With time comes knowledge and some objectivity. When the loss is new, it is difficult to see anything resembling an offering from the Universe. Several years down the road however, those who are diligently doing inner spiritual work can list for you several important gifts that were disguised as lessons during the healing process of grieving.

Here are some of the most profound insights people have shared with me that arose as byproduct of their loss. If you are newly-bereaved, this list may give you hope for days that are a bit further down your path. 

  • A deeper appreciation for the small, positive moments of life. 

When people take a few minutes to reflect upon what they miss about a loved one who has died or left, I hear more about the small things people did than the big ones. The big things a wife might miss about her husband was his ability to take care of her and the family financially. Yet, if you ask her what she misses about him, the answers are always things like, "His roaring laugh." "He woke up before me every morning and made the coffee." "He always called me at lunch time." We may argue that we already appreciate how good we have it when a loved one is alive and well, but the value of such precious moments grows immeasurably when they are a memory instead of a present reality.


  • A need to correct misunderstandings as quickly as possible.

Your mother was right when she said not to go to bed angry. People die in their sleep; that's a reality. They also die suddenly from heart attacks, car accidents and natural disasters. There is never a better time to forgive and forget than right now. Reach out to someone with whom you have a discordant relationship, and offer the proverbial olive branch. Perhaps the differences cannot be resolved, but you can always let go with love instead of anger. 


  • The ability to let go of differences and most disagreements. 

My good friend Troy often says, "It just doesn't matter." The jewelry from your grandmother that you were supposed to inherit instead of your cousin? It just doesn't matter. That hateful comment posted on social media by someone you hardly know? It just doesn't matter. The friend who refuses to compromise? It just doesn't matter. Move on. Your life energy is more precious than money; be careful how and where you spend it. You could invest a lot of time into petty circumstances and consequently feel drained when something or someone truly worthwhile comes along.


  • A reduction in the fear of failure. 

The biggest regrets in life are often the chances we don't take. This is not encouragement to repeat past mistakes; but sometimes our fears of failing, being humiliated, embarrassed, wrong or shamed prevent us from taking necessary risks in life to better our circumstances and relationships. The only guarantee in physical life is eventual death, and when you have dealt with that loss, it's possible to bury some of our fears with our loved ones. Life is meant for living and often the bereaved feel a new vitality surrounding their ability to try things that used to scare them.


  • Judgment of others is transformed into compassion. 

When you have had to deal with loss due to suicide, drug abuse or tragic circumstances, your sense of compassion for the person dealing with the challenge/addiction/illness and their loved ones trying to cope with the situation is heightened immeasurably. As a naive person, it's quite easy to view a drug addict with a sense of disgust, but with experience comes wisdom. The ability to see another person for their light, bravery and connection to us through their Soul instead of their circumstances, is one of the most enlightened places from which to view the world. We need to see the addict as a Soul who needs unconditional love; the controlling individual as a Soul who needs additional security; the fearful human as someone who has been hurt and needs to be gently cared for. It always comes back to our collective, basic need for unconditional love. Do you accept that YOU need unconditional love, too? When we are able to let go of judgment in favor of compassion, we are able to give that same grace to ourselves.

In the wake of loss, this transformation gives us powerful new perspective to navigate the many changes of life. 

©Mollie Morning Star 2014  Short excerpts of this article may be shared on the internet provided a live link back to this original source is used. Reproduction in print is prohibited.